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Leadership and Cultural Challenges in Operating the International Space StationOperating the International Space Station (ISS) involves an indefinite, continuous series of long-duration international missions, and this requires an unprecedented degree of cooperation across multiple sites, organizations, and nations. ISS flight controllers have had to find ways to maintain effective team performance in this challenging new context. The goal of this study was to systematically identify and evaluate the major leadership and cultural challenges faces by ISS flight controllers, and to highlight the approaches that they have found most effective to surmount these challenges. We conducted a qualitative survey using a semi-structured interview. Subjects included 14 senior NASA flight controllers who were chosen on the basis of having had substantial experience working with international partners. Data were content analyzed using an iterative process with multiple coders and consensus meetings to resolve discrepancies. To further explore the meaning of the interview findings, we also conducted some new analyses of data from a previous questionnaire study of Russian and American ISS mission control personnel. The interview data showed that respondents had substantial consensus on several leadership and cultural challenges and on key strategies for dealing with them, and they offered a wide range of specific tactics for implementing these strategies. Surprisingly few respondents offered strategies for addressing the challenge of working with team members whose native language is not American English. The questionnaire data showed that Americans think it is more important than Russians that mission control personnel speak the same dialect of one shared common language. Although specific to the ISS program, our results are consistent with recent management, cultural, and aerospace research. We aim to use our results to improve training for current and future ISS flight controllers.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Clement, J. L.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Ritsher, J. B.
(California Univ. San Francisco, CA, United States)
Saylor, S. A.
(California Univ. San Francisco, CA, United States)
Kanas, N.
(California Univ. San Francisco, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
May 14, 2006
Subject Category
Astronautics (General)
Meeting Information
77th Scientific Meeting of Aerospace Medical Assn.(Orlando, Fl)
Distribution Limits
No Preview Available